Even though the IFA ceased to exist nearly three decades ago, yet some things in Ludwigsfelde remind of the past. Those turning off into the street Zum Industriepark on their way to the main gate will see a sign advertising IFA replacement parts. And those driving on a little further to the plant’s former training center will discover a workshop dedicated to the eventful history of the location.
It is the clubhouse of the Friends of the industrial history of Ludwigsfelde . Detlef Ludwig has been the club’s chairman for just over one year, and there can be no doubt that he is the ideal choice for this position. Because firstly, the 63 year-old engineer says of himself: “I can talk non-stop.” Secondly, he not only knows the history of the town and its plant from dusty encyclopaedias. He witnessed a great deal of it himself – and helped to shape it. “I was born in Ludwigsfelde in 1956. After obtaining my diploma in mechanical engineering in Magdeburg, I started to work here at the plant.” This was in September 1980, and in true socialist form his job designation was: Young Engineer.
He has been retired since 2017, ending his career as head of assembly planning. His professional life covers a period full of historical events: It began in the Industrial Association for Vehicle Production (IFA), in a state named the German Democratic Republic which had subscribed to the principle of a planned socialist economy. And it ended at Mercedes-Benz Ludwigsfelde GmbH, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG in a reunified Germany.